Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Powerful Way to End the School Year

One of our strategies that teachers enjoy using at the end of the school year is a practical, easy-to-use tool we call Celebrating Learning With Year Mapping. This activity gives your current students a chance to feel good about what they’ve learned and provides incoming students an opportunity to see real evidence that they can be successful learners in the coming school year. And it gives teachers a chance to enjoy seeing students share what they’ve learned and to internalize their successful teaching.

Several elements of this strategy make it a powerful way to end the school year with a positive experience, often much needed after testing is over and as a busy year comes to an end. With prompted recall, each student can remember learning events that mean the most to them. Year-end mapping utilizes the power of positive teacher-student relationships as well as personalized learning, summarizing, group learning, and organizing information graphically.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Guiding Students to Be Independent Learners

It’s estimated that students in the U.S. spend nearly 20,000 hours experiencing classroom education by the age of 18, and that much of what is taught is forgotten within a short time. And there’s little evidence that they know how to apply effective learning strategies when they arrive at college.

In essence, many students have not learned how to retain and apply knowledge. Fortunately, current research offers fascinating insights about the brain’s capacity to learn at higher levels when effective learning strategies are used.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our Latest EdWeek Commentary Highlights an Underappreciated Strategy: Teaching Students About How Learning Changes the Brain

Marcus and I had an opportunity to stress the importance of teaching students about their brains and learning when responding to a question for Education Week as a part of the popular Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo.

The question for this blog post was: "What is an instructional strategy and/or teaching concept that you think is underused/underappreciated in the classroom and should be practiced more widely?"

In our response, we pointed out how teaching students about their brains can have a transformative impact in the classroom, but unfortunately the knowledge about how brains change during learning is traditionally not taught.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Celebrating BrainSMART’s 20-Year Anniversary: Teachers Speak


Therese Reder has changed the way she teaches courtesy of principles she has learned since completing the BrainSMART program.

Understanding the body-brain connection, she makes sure that students have the opportunity to move during the day to enhance their learning ability.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Celebrating BrainSMART’s 20-Year Anniversary: Teachers Speak

The BrainSMART program has been excellent for teachers as well as for school administrators who are looking for principles to enhance their staffs’ professional and personal development.

Retired principal Priscilla Bourgeois and teachers in her parish had a positive experience using the program to bring out the most in educators and students. Here is her description of her BrainSMART experience.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Marcus Describes Link Between Learning and Exercise in Motiv Running Article

I was pleased to be the expert voice in a recent article entitled "Learning on the Run," which appeared on Motiv Running, a website dedicated to helping runners of all levels run better, reduce injuries, and live an active, outdoor lifestyle.

The article described the University of Oregon's "Run with a Researcher" program, which highlights the connection between running and learning. I confirmed the powerful connection between movement and learning, pointing out that the brain's central processor of learning and memory—the hippocampus—is larger among people who exercise regularly.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Celebrating BrainSMART’s 20-Year Anniversary: Teachers Speak

Florida Teacher leader Beth Brissette used BrainSMART strategies and principles in the classroom as a means of motivating students to learn new things and grow new connections in their brains. Here, she describes how she used pipe cleaners as a visual aid for representing these new connections.

Making a Model to Show How We
“Grow Our Brains”

In these demanding days of teaching in public education, what I learned from Marcus and Donna now 20 years ago has been my solace and inspiration.



I’d also like to share how much the BrainSMART strategies enriched my teaching life and the day-to-day lives of my past second-graders. I believe the most powerful lesson to begin each year with was that of teaching about dendrites.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Feeding the Teacher’s Brain: Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators

Now that the holidays are behind us, we have been getting requests from people who are excited to learn tips on how to eat healthier in 2018! We thought it would be helpful to reprint our January 20, 2016, blog post from Edutopia on the topic. Here it is below, in its entirety.

Teaching is a cognitively complex profession. In the course of a single school day, an educator must make hundreds of decisions and respond quickly to the myriad unexpected turns that life in the classroom may take. You have a high-energy job, so it's essential to prime your brain and body with the right fuel.

But in the busy life of a teacher, who has time to think about healthy eating, much less sorting through the sometimes-conflicting claims about the nutritional value of various food choices? Unfortunately, the less we think about what we eat, the worse our diets may be—especially if we default to snacking on so-called convenience foods that are high in sugar and saturated fats and low in nutrient-dense ingredients that sustain energy levels.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Online Video Companion for “Teaching Students
 to Drive Their Brains” Will Be Available This Spring

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

This past autumn, I was delighted to lead the development of our upcoming online video program, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains: Metacognitive Strategies, Activities, and Lesson Plans, with ASCD.

The video is based on research, development and practical strategies from the ASCD book of the same name, which I co-authored with Marcus Conyers. Both the book and the accompanying video highlight the principles of metacognition as a tool that helps students unlock their brain power and take control of their learning.